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After an unprecedented three-week delay, more than 300 participants in this year's Freshman Outdoor Program (FOP) are finally getting their official purple tee-shirts.
Concerned that some first-years had been intimidated by the onslaught of fellow Yardlings sporting FOP wear, proctors and senior advisors asked organizers to hold off tee-shirt distribution this year.
Outdoor Program tee-shirts have been distributed for free to all participants since 1987. Until this year, the shirts were awarded to groups in early September, when they returned to civilization, organizers said.
Trip leaders agreed to the delay in an August meeting before first-years arrived, said program director John H. Duvivier, a graduate student in the Philosophy Department. Duvivier said Henry C. Moses, dean of first-year students, strongly requested this move.
Although there was some initial resistance to the plan, Outdoor Program leaders eventually agreed that the delay would be better for the first-year class as a whole, steering committee member Carlin L. Chi '91 said.
"The idea of the program is to help as many frosh as we can, not to make others feel uncomfortable," Chi said. "The question was inconvenience for the FOPpers versus ameliorating the discomfort of the non-FOPpers."
Similarly, Duvivier said he supported the plan. "The visual impact of 300 FOPpers returning to campus was dramatic, and we don't want to do anything to create division between people who FOPped and people who didn't," he said.
But some first-year students said yesterday they did not feel intimidated by returning FOP participants.
"I wasn't intimidated by FOP people," said Richard S. Rhoads '94, whose application to the program was rejected. "It would have been a small divider, I suppose, if they had shirts thefirst day. But it makes no difference to mewhether they wear FOP shirts or not at thispoint."
Another first-year student who did notparticipate in FOP also downplayed the program'simpact. "There was just so much going on the firstday. I don't think I would have been overlyaffected by what other students were wearing,"said Ross L. Levine '94.
One FOP survivor, Paul B. Mishkin '94, said heapproves of the delay. And anyway, he added, "I'llprobably never wear my FOP tee-shirt because Ihave better shirts I like to wear."
This year's Outdoor Program was the largestever and is one of the four largest programs ofits kind in the country, Duvivier said.Thirty-seven different groups led by Harvardupperclass students backpacked and canoedthroughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont duringthe first week in September
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